Edinburgh University paleontologists conducted a study on some fossilized teeth and discovered how the Jurassic marine reptiles adapted to the changing conditions in the seas that occurred about 150 million years ago. According to the study, the ancient aquatic creatures that were living in deep waters in the Jurassic proliferated as the sea levels rose.
On the other hand, those species that inhabited shallow waters went extinct.
The researchers analyzed teeth belonging to Jurassic marine reptiles that lived over a period of 18 million years in tropical regions. They discovered that, as global sea levels rose, populations of those aquatic creatures living in shallow waters decline significantly. In the same time, those more massive marine reptiles that inhabited deep waters proliferated.
The study estimated how Jurassic marine reptiles adapted to environmental change in the late-Jurassic
According to the recent research, those deep-water reptiles took advantage of the increase in water temperatures and changes in chemical makeup, and obtained more prey and, therefore, nutrients which helped them adapt better to the climate change conditions.
“Studying the evolution of these animals was a real – and rare – treat and has offered a simple yet powerful explanation for why some species declined as others prospered,” said Davide Foffa, of Edinburgh University. “This work reminds us of the relevance of paleontology by revealing the parallels between past and present-day ocean ecosystems,” he added.
The study of some fossilized teeth managed to reveal how the Jurassic marine reptiles managed to adapt to the climate and environmental changes that occurred in the world’s oceans during the late-Jurassic period.
“Changes in these Jurassic reptiles parallel changes in dolphins and other marine species that are occurring today as sea-levels rise, which speaks to how important fossils are for understanding our modern world,” explained Dr. Steve Brusatte, also a researcher at the Edinburgh Univesity.